Green Urban Development: learning from inspiring examples of implementation

A review of the Connective Cities COVID-19 program's working groups on Green Urban Development (Sept. 2021-May 2022)

How do we promote climate neutral urban development?

The world must drastically reduce its CO2 emissions by 2050 to avert the worst impacts of climate change. Globally, we are seeing an influx into cities over the past 30 years and, cities are one of the main spaces where CO2 emissions are directly caused. Emissions in urban areas stem from construction projects, traffic flows, increasing energy consumption from a growing population, production of waste and other factors. "However, the urban space is also the solution space for the climate change," said one of the participants in the working groups on Green Urban Development. This sentiment was also reflected in a study conducted by the German Advisory Council on Global Change, among other studies carried out globally.

Urban solutions include, for example, the use of new mobility formats such as traffic-calmed urban spaces, roll-out of innovative of e-mobility and bike lane solutions, the reduction of pollution from resource intensive economic sectors, more sustainable building and renovation practices based on circularity, development of urban spaces to promote local economic cycles and community activities and, decentralized energy supply and waste concepts.

Aim of the working groups on Green Urban Development

The COVID-19 program "Green Urban Development" was implemented in cooperation with the consulting company Mesopartner and the Wuppertal Institute. The program included three working groups, each with 3 to 4 cities and their representatives, mostly partners from local city governments or local research institutions. The objective was to promote the implementation of concrete projects that promote climate neutral city efforts

The three working groups had the following focus areas:

  • Working Group 1: Mobility solutions in cities
  • Working group 2: The transformation of urban spaces and reuse of "urban space" through new community formats and mobility solutions
  • Working Group 3: A mixed group linking urban energy, mobility and spatial approaches

From the formation of the working groups, it became clear that solution approaches often overlap or, that different solutions can approaches create synergies. This also enabled an exchange of experiences between the working groups. The participating cities in the program were Bhuj/Ahmedabad, Belo Horizonte, Kochi, Lalitpur, Dortmund, Buenos Aires, Quito, Montevideo, Hamburg, Kigali, Kisumu and Bremen.

First, second and third process steps: From ideas to concrete project proposals

In a first step, project ideas were developed in the respective working group:

  • Creation of a bicycle traffic concept using the example of the bicycle paths in Lalitpur
  • Creation of a child-friendly environmental zone in the neighborhood and the design of speed-reduced recreation areas
  • Greening of roofs to create a sustainable and green urban environment and combining it with renewable energy solutions and urban gardening activities
  • Municipal bio-waste management at the neighborhood level in collaboration with local citizens
  • Promotion of traffic-calming zones in Kigali
  • Increasing green, retention and infiltration areas in cities.
  • Application of sensor technologies to analyze neighborhoods and places with high Co2 emissions.
  • Planning pop-up bike lanes and building safe bike lanes.
  • Last-mile connectivity solutions and electro-based logistics solutions in the center of cities.

In bilateral meetings the topics of interest were explored, and the cities exchange on their experiences.

In a second step of the project, larger network meetings were organized in each working group. Here, the cities in the respective working group exchanged their experiences and presented inspiring implementation approaches. A variety of solution approaches and experience reports were exchanged here, including the creation of a pollution mapping and the e-mobility concept of Kigali, first last mile connectivity approaches in Buenos Aires, the development of the e-mobility hub in Quito, pop-up lanes in Berlin, environmental zones and bike lanes approaches in Belo Horizonte, the development of first bike lanes and app sharing concepts in Lalitpur, etc.

Based on this concrete exchange across the working groups, further bilateral experience exchange meetings were initiated to further develop initial ideas of prototypes. The prototypes included:

  • Delivery/unloading areas and electronic transport via hubs in the old city of Buenos Aires
  • Child-friendly and traffic-calming spaces in Bhuj
  • Scaling up bicycle infrastructure projects and app-sharing solutions in Lalitpur.

Based on these prototypes, concrete project proposals were developed with the objective to start fund raising for the implementation of the initiatives. In the Urban Space working group, Bhuj will implement the project "Safe access to schools for children through child-friendly and traffic-calmed zones." The mobility-urban space-energy working group developed a project for Belo Horizonte, the establishment of an urban ecology laboratory. The exchanges in the Mobility Working Group eventually led to the project "Applied Technology for Loading and Unloading Public Zones in Buenos Aires".

Implementation of Green City Pioneer of Change Events

In addition to the internal network exchange in the working groups, other stakeholders from cities around the world were involved in the reflection process for new climate-neutral city solutions. For this purpose, two large "Green City Pioneer of Change" workshops were organized, where in each of them more than 50 international participants were presented. The events had the objective to share good practices as well as to reflect jointly on key success factors and challenges. 

Detailed information

A variety of input speeches, video presentations, presentations, workshop results and good practices can be found on the Connective Cities website from various documented events:

Connective Cities Lab- Expert Input

with Climate City Expert Prof. Oliver Lah (Wuppertal Institut), 11. November 2021:

Participation of the three working groups in Design Thinking Workshops (15-17.11 2021):

Working group meeting with exchange of good practices in the working group „Mobility“

Working group meeting with exchange of good practices in the working group Urban Space, Mobility, Energy (03.12.21)

First large Green City Pioneers of Change Event (19.01.2022)

Second Green City Pioneers of Change Event (25.02.22)

Connective Cities

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